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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Ravens Game Aftermath

Carolina got pushed around in their third preseason game, closing the gap late in the game but giving up touchdowns on two of the first three posessions. The offense didn't bring in third down conversions, and failed to keep pace with the Ravens. Some impressions:

First Defense

The Ravens threw so much early, it was hard to get a good feel for how bad our run D is. But we got plenty of markers to work on pass defense. Chris Gamble was the worst offender, having trouble with the jam and at times playing off much further. Neither looked comfortable, and it's not like Ravens WR Derrick Mason is an All - Pro.

Julius Peppers had some great plays, chasing Joe Flacco from the other side of formation to the sideline; his jump in the air froze Flacco to get Tyler Brayton a sack. Nick Hayden and Marlon Favorite didn't fare terribly poor - Hayden wasn't thrown around as much. But the Ravens didn't run a lot, and when they did, they had success.

Gamble's struggles hid the other three in the secondary; Quenton Teal didn't stand out, but didn't hurt either. Same for Richard Marshall. Nickelback CJ Wilson had a pass breakup. Dante Wesley, as the fourth CB, had a tipped ball interception.

Still missing Jon Beason, the D is flowing to the ball very well but doesn't finish. Have they learned to run to the ball? Yes. Have they learned what to do when they get there? No. Thomas Davis and Beason should make a difference, with the hard hitting pair as good of defenders as any; Peppers usually steps up after preseason's over. And who knows, they may figure out how to get Chris Harris to start lighting people up like the old days.

First Offense

Jake Delhomme is stepping up in the pocket well, and throwing with good velocity. Not as many arc balls. But sometimes when he sidesteps, he's still not throwing with his feet set. He finished completing 11 of 16, 180 yards. He struggled on third downs, though, and most incompletions were on balls he was forcing deep or forcing into coverage.

Mike Goodson, as the unlikely starter of the 3rd game, did well with 11 rushes for 52 yards, catching 3 more for 26. He's shed some problems with dropping the ball, and looks darty. He also had some good runs brought back. But is he an adept inside runner? Not yet. Decori Birmingham can do it all, including block and run inside, even though he doesn't have major league speed or burst; if Jonathan Stewart can't make it onto the field, Birmingham's a good third option. Otherwise, he won't make the roster.

This was the first game for both Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammad involved. Each got 4 targets, each had two receptions; Muhammad's went for 51, Smith's for 37. He also had another 25 yard play pulled back because Smith got a little exuberant with a stiffarm which turned into a facemask. Kenneth Moore, playing over Dwayne Jarrett, had 3 receptions for 40 yards. Jarrett didn't enter until the 4th quarter, when he finally caught his first ball of preseason for 10 yards.

Carolina pushed TEs up the field - Jeff King had a 31 yard catch, and Dante Rosario a 25 yarder. Rosario also had a great shot at another deep ball, coming from the FB position to get a Delhomme target that was broken up. I'm not sure if this is the pair that will go forth, but the Gary Barnidge noise has slowed considerably for now.

First OL did well - pushing a big front for positive yardage, and giving Jake Delhomme time to pass. Delhomme was sacked once, with Keydrick Vincent having struggles with penalties and giving up the one sack.

Special Teams

Rosario had a tackle here, and a good block. He's continuing to be the upback with Goodson. Of the three players who had tackles on ST, he's the only one who should make it. Jeremy Leman had no tackles, but two assists.

Jason Baker punted well, but had a net under 40 yards due to coverage issues.
John Kasay hit two FG, including a 50 yarder.
Rhys Lloyd's promises of better kickoffs were on the mark - he's driving them into the end zone again. 3 of 4 in the endzone, the other at the 5; 2 of the 3 in the endzone were touchbacks.
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